Can You Freeze Rotisserie Chicken ? A Comprehensive Guide
Can you freeze rotisserie chicken? In this guide, we’ll provide you with expert insights and practical tips to ensure that freezing rotisserie chicken becomes a seamless part of your meal-planning routine.
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Rotisserie chicken is super convenient for quick and delicious meals. It’s a lifesaver for budget-conscious shoppers, meal preppers, or busy folks and families who want a tasty dinner without spending hours in the kitchen.
You can find rotisserie chicken in almost every grocery store, making it incredibly accessible and time-saving.
Now, let’s talk about freezing rotisserie chicken because, hey, sometimes you end up with leftovers or you would want to meal prep for convenience.
So, can you freeze cooked rotisserie chicken? The answer is YES! Freezing rotisserie chicken is a fantastic way to preserve its flavors and extend its shelf life.
But it is crucial to understand the proper techniques for freezing and thawing to maintain its taste and texture.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore freezing rotisserie chicken. You’ll get expert tips and step-by-step instructions so you can enjoy rotisserie chicken whenever you want.
Let’s make your mealtime even more convenient!
Rotisserie chicken is made by slowly roasting a whole chicken on a rotisserie. This gives tender, juicy meat with crispy, flavorful chicken skin.
Whether you grab it from the supermarket or make it at home, rotisserie chicken is incredibly versatile. You can use it to create mouthwatering sandwiches and wraps, and even add it to stir-fries, curries, or soups. Of course, it’s just as delicious on its own.
It is also a good meal option if you are following a high-protein diet or watching your carb intake.
While rotisserie chicken can last a couple of days in the fridge, you can extend its shelf life significantly by freezing it.
How Long does Rotisserie Chicken Last?
How long the rotisserie chicken will last, would depend on how it is stored and handled. If it is stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, rotisserie chicken can last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
However, if you freeze the rotisserie chicken, it can last 3-4 months. This works for both homemade and store-bought rotisserie chicken.
For the best quality, taste, and texture, I recommended eating your frozen chicken within 2 to 3 months.
Remember to always follow proper food safety guidelines. Use your best judgment to determine if the chicken is still safe to eat.
If it has a sour smell, looks weird, or has a strange texture, it’s better to avoid food poisoning. Play it safe and toss it.
Why Freeze Rotisserie Chicken
- Freezing increases the shelf life of your rotisserie chicken.
- Freezing rotisserie chicken allows you to have a convenient and ready-to-eat meal option whenever you need it.
- You don’t have to waste leftover rotisserie chicken. Freezing allows you to preserve it for future use and reduce food waste.
- Buying entire rotisserie chicken in bulk for sale and freezing it is also cheaper.
- Rotisserie chicken can be frozen in small portions for meal prepping. Smaller portions thaw quickly, making it an easy grab-and-go meal.
Freezing Rotisserie Chicken
Store-bought or homemade rotisserie chicken should be cooled down to room temperature before freezing.
Properly cooling the rotisserie chicken before freezing is essential to maintain its quality and prevent bacterial growth. This also helps avoid condensation and moisture buildup inside the packaging, which can lead to freezer burn.
Here 3 ways you can freeze the cooked rotisserie chicken
- Freeze Entire Chicken
- Freeze shredded Chicken
- Freeze chicken in pieces
Freezing Whole Rotisserie Chicken
Freezing rotisserie chicken whole is the easiest way to freeze it. If you freeze a whole rotisserie chicken, you will have to thaw and use the whole thing within a few days. It’s best not to refreeze it once thawed.
- If it is homemade, let it cool to room temperature before proceeding. store rotisserie chicken in the fridge overnight to cool it down. This will help it adapt to the cold temperature better. For store-bought, Costco chicken, ignore this step.
- Pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from a supermarket is already wrapped or frozen.. Simply place it in the freezer without any additional preparation.
- In case the chicken is not well-wrapped or you have made it at home, you can place it in a large heavy-duty freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the sealed plastic bag to minimize freezer burn.
- Another option is to double-wrap the chicken. Use cling film (plastic wrap) first and then in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Then place it in the freezer. You can also use vacuum sealers to do vacuum packing before freezing.
- Requires minimal effort and time.
- Can be served as a whole dish once thawed and heated.
- The thawing process may take longer.
- It will require more time to heat and serve the chicken.
- You would need to consume the entire chicken once thawed.
Freezing Shredded Rotisserie Chicken
This method requires a little more work on your part. But this is the best way to freeze it if you are looking for a quick delicious meal.
Separate the meat from the bones while shredding. You can save the bone and use it to make a nutritious chicken broth later.
- Again, make sure the chicken is at room temperature before proceeding.
- Shread the chicken and divide it into smaller portions based on your intended use. You can season the shredded chicken with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, or your favorite sauce to enhance its flavor.
- Place individual portions in separate airtight containers or zip-lock bags. Squeeze out any excess air from the packaging before sealing.
- Place the shredded rotisserie chicken in the coldest part of the freezer.
- Convenient portioning of shredded chicken for easy use.
- Quick thawing and warming process.
- Versatility in flavor by simply changing the condiment or seasoning.
- Suitable for various dishes like wraps, sandwiches, dips, curries, and more.
- Minimizes chicken wastage by utilizing every bit.
- Requires time for shredding the chicken.
- This may result in a messy process with additional clean-up needed
Freezing Carved Rotisserie Chicken
This method requires less effort than shredding but a bit more than freezing the whole chicken.
- Start by cutting the rotisserie chicken into smaller pieces once it has cooled down to room temperature. Cut it into individual pieces, such as legs, thighs, and breasts, using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
- Place the carved pieces in an airtight container or ziploc bag.
- Freeze till you are ready to use them.
- Requires less effort compared to shredding.
- Easy to thaw and heat the specific pieces needed.
- Allows for easier tracking of calories and portion control.
- Minimizes wastage as you can take out only the desired amount.
- Carving the chicken can be challenging, especially for beginners.
- Takes up more space in the freezer compared to freezing the whole chicken.
- When carving the chicken, the bones are typically discarded. You miss the opportunity to use them for making broth or stock.
Best Time to Freeze Rotisserie Chicken
The best time to freeze rotisserie chicken is as soon as possible after it has been cooked and cooled. Ideally, you should freeze it within 2 hours of being cooked or once it has reached room temperature.
This helps to maintain the freshness and quality of the chicken.
Freezing it promptly prevents the growth of bacteria. It also preserves its delicious flavor and texture.
It’s important to note that starting the freezing process while it is still hot is not recommended.
Tips for Freezing Rotisserie Chicken
- Allow the rotisserie chicken to cool completely before freezing. This helps prevent bacterial growth.
- For best results, choose an air-tight, leak-proof package to freeze it in.
- It is a good idea to portion the chicken into meal-sized servings before freezing. This makes it easier to thaw and use only the amount you need, minimizing waste.
- Properly label the packaging with the freezing date and expiration date. This ensures you use the chicken within the recommended storage duration.
- When using the plastic freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. This helps prevent freezer burn and keeps the chicken fresh.
- If possible, arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer when freezing. This allows for faster and more even freezing, promoting better quality when thawed.
- Place the packaged chicken in the coldest part of the freezer, such as the back or bottom shelf. This helps maintain a consistent freezing temperature.
- Use up the Frozen rotisserie chicken Within Recommended Timeframe of 3-4 months for optimal flavor and texture.
Equipment Needed to Freeze Chicken
These containers are designed to create a seal that prevents air from entering. This maintains the freshness and quality of the chicken during freezer storage.
They are typically made of durable materials such as plastic or glass. It can withstand low temperatures without cracking or breaking.
Airtight containers come in various sizes and shapes. This allows you to choose the one that best suits your needs and the amount of chicken you want to freeze. The tight-fitting lids ensure a secure closure, preventing any air or moisture from entering and causing freezer burn.
Airtight containers are also reusable and easy to clean, making them an eco-friendly option for freezing chicken.
Additionally, these containers help in organizing your freezer. They maximize storage space, as they can be stacked or nested together.
These bags are also specifically designed for freezer storage. They are made with a thicker, more durable material than regular storage bags.
Ziploc freezer bags are capable of withstanding low temperatures without tearing or developing leaks ensuring excellent protection against freezer burn.
These heavy-duty freezer bags come in various sizes. This allows for convenient portioning of the chicken according to your needs.
Ziplock bags are generally more affordable compared to airtight containers. But they are not an environmentally friendly as they aren’t reusable or recyclable.
Another useful option for freezing chicken is freezer-safe silicone bags. These bags are made from food-grade silicone.
They offer airtight sealing, preventing air exposure and freezer burn.
Freezer-safe silicone bags are a great alternative to traditional plastic bags as they are reusable and eco-friendly. They can withstand low temperatures without becoming brittle or cracking.
They are also easy to clean and can be used for storing both liquid and solid foods, including chicken.
Vacuum sealer or vacuum packing system uses a vacuum and heat-sealing technology to remove air from the packaging. It creates an airtight seal around the chicken.
Vacuum sealing eliminates the presence of oxygen. This helps to prevent freezer burn and extend the shelf life of the chicken.
Vacuum sealers come in different models, ranging from countertop machines to handheld devices. They may need special vacuum-seal bags or rolls* that are specifically designed for freezer storage.
To use a vacuum sealer, you place the chicken inside the bag. Insert the open end of the bag into the sealer, and activate the vacuuming and sealing process. The machine removes the air from the bag and creates a tight seal.
Thawing Frozen Rotisserie Chicken
So, you’ve got some frozen rotisserie chicken and you’re wondering how to thaw it properly? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Thawing frozen rotisserie chicken properly is an important step to ensure it’s safe to eat and tastes delicious.
Thawing frozen rotisserie chicken allows it to regain its natural texture and tenderness, making it easier to incorporate into a variety of delicious dishes.
There are a few ways you can go about it.
For a hands-off approach, transfer the frozen rotisserie chicken from the freezer to a plate or shallow container. Let it thaw in the refrigerator.
I usually like to do overnight thaw as this method takes around 14-20 hours for a whole chicken to fully thaw.
Make sure to take into account the thawing time needed when planning your meals. If you know you’ll be using the chicken the next day, you would have to thaw it at least the night before.
Larger pieces of frozen rotisserie chicken may take longer to thaw compared to smaller portions. Plan accordingly. Allow enough time for the chicken to thaw completely before using it.
- Requires minimal effort
- A safe method for thawing
- Allows you to refreeze the chicken if needed
- Requires planning in advance
- Takes time to thaw completely
Another great way to thaw is by using a microwave with a thaw option. It is one of the quickest methods.to thaw your chicken
Unwrap the chicken and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Set the microwave to the thaw setting and microwave for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it to prevent overcooking.
- The fastest way to thaw chicken
- Considered a safe method by USDA
- Requires monitoring and attention during microwaving.
- Involves additional cleanup
- Wouldn’t work if you don’t have a microwave with a thaw setting
The traditional water bath method involves immersing the chicken, still in its plastic or ziplock bag, in a bowl of cold water. Allow the water to do its work for 30 minutes.
Change the water every 30 minutes. A regular-sized chicken should be thawed within an hour to an hour and a half using this easy way of thawing.
- Safe and easy method
- Requires minimal effort and no special equipment
- Partially hands-free process
- Takes less time than overnight thawing
- Requires changing the water at least once
- Not as fast as the microwave thawing method
How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken
When the time comes to enjoy your frozen rotisserie chicken, it’s important to reheat it properly. By doing so, you’ll be able to bring back that delicious taste and the wonderful texture it had when it was freshly cooked.
There are several cooking methods to reheat rotisserie chicken:
- Preheat your oven to around 350°F (175°C).
- Place the rotisserie chicken in an oven-safe dish or on a baking sheet*.
- Cover it loosely with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.
- Reheat the chicken in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This method helps retain the chicken’s moisture and crispness.
- If you’re looking for a quick and convenient option, you can use a microwave to reheat rotisserie chicken.
- Place the chicken pieces on a microwave-safe plate.
- Cover them with a microwave-safe lid* or microwave-safe plastic wrap.
- Heat the chicken on high power for 1-2 minutes, or until it’s heated through.
- Make sure to check the internal temperature to ensure it reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Using a skillet* or frying pan on the stovetop is another effective way to reheat rotisserie chicken.
- Heat a small amount of oil or butter in the pan over medium heat.
- Add the chicken pieces and cook them for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they’re heated through.
- This method can help restore some of the chicken’s original crispiness.
- If you prefer a charred and slightly crispy skin, you can reheat rotisserie chicken on a grill or under the broiler.
- Preheat the grill or broiler to medium-high heat.
- Place the chicken on the grill grates or on a broiler pan.
- Cook it for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until it’s heated thoroughly and has some desired charring.
Air Fryer* Method
- Turn on the air fryer and set the temperature to 350°F (175 degrees C).
- Cook the rotisserie chicken pieces in the air fryer basket for about 4-5 minutes.
- Take the chicken out of the air fryer and dig in.
Regardless of the method you choose, ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches165°F (74°C) to ensure food safety. I recommend using a food thermometer* to check this.
What to Make with your Leftover Rotisserie Chicken
Leftover rotisserie chicken can be transformed into delicious and easy meals. Here are some ideas for what you can make with your leftover rotisserie chicken:
- Sandwich: Create a delicious sandwich filling by combining shredded chicken with mayo, mustard, and chopped cilantro.
- Wrap: For a tasty wrap, heat a tortilla or flatbread and spread some yogurt, tzatziki, or hummus. Add the shredded chicken and top it with pickled onions and plenty of shredded lettuce.
- Buffalo Chicken Dip: Make a mouthwatering buffalo chicken dip by mixing shredded chicken with cream cheese, hot sauce, shredded cheddar, and ranch seasoning. Bake the mixture until it’s bubbling and hot.
- Salad: You can also add the leftover shredded rotisserie chicken over the salad.
- Chicken Tacos or Quesadillas: Use the shredded chicken to fill soft tortillas for tasty chicken tacos. Add your favorite toppings such as salsa, guacamole, and shredded cheese. Alternatively, use the chicken to make quesadillas. Start by layering it with cheese between tortillas. Grill until golden and melted.
- Chicken Pasta: You can toss the shredded chicken into your favorite pasta dish. I like to add it to my Crispy Chicken Costoletta.
- Chicken Stir-Fry: Sauté the chicken with vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots, in a stir-fry sauce. It can be served over steamed rice or noodles for a quick and nutritious meal.
Can you Refreeze Thawed Rotisserie Chicken
It is generally not recommended to refreeze thawed chicken, including rotisserie chicken.
When cooked chicken is frozen, thawed, and refrozen, it tends to become tough and chewy. It also loses some of its original flavor.
Another important concern is the potential increase in bacterial growth during the thawing and refreezing process. While freezing helps inhibit bacterial growth, it does not eliminate bacteria.
When cooked chicken is thawed and warmed above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can proliferate and spread. This poses a risk of foodborne illnesses.
If you do decide to refreeze cooked chicken, it is crucial to follow the correct thawing procedure during the initial thaw.
Thaw the cooked chicken in the refrigerator. This ensures that the temperature remains at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a safe range for refreezing.
However, cooked chicken that has been thawed using a water bath or the defrost function in the microwave should not be refrozen. Exposure to heat increases the risk of bacterial growth. Thus, making it unsafe for refreezing and subsequent consumption.
If you want to learn more about it, you can check out the USDA website.
Commonly Asked Questions about Freezing Rotisserie Chicken
Rotisserie chicken can be frozen for up to 4 months. But it is best consumed within 1-3 months if you want the best taste and texture of the chicken.
Yes, you can freeze rotisserie chicken bones to make stock. Simply store the bones in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag or container until you’re ready to use them for stock.
It is generally safe to refreeze thawed rotisserie chicken if it was thawed in the refrigerator and handled properly. However, each time you freeze and thaw the chicken, its texture and quality may be slightly affected
It is not recommended to freeze rotisserie chicken salad, especially if it contains mayonnaise. Freezing can alter the texture and cause the salad to become watery upon thawing. It’s best to consume chicken salad fresh or refrigerate it for a short period instead of freezing it.
Rotisserie chicken should not sit on the counter at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature. Leaving the chicken out for an extended period increases the risk of foodborne illness. To ensure food safety, it is recommended to refrigerate or consume the rotisserie chicken within 2 hours of being cooked or purchased.
To determine if Costco rotisserie chicken is bad, check for signs such as changes in appearance, discoloration or mold, unpleasant odor, slimy texture, or off taste. If you notice any of these indicators, it’s best to discard the chicken to ensure food safety
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